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Japan eyes extension of SDF dispatch to UN mission in S. Sudan

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force member takes part in U.N. peacekeeping activities in South Sudan in 2016. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government plans to extend the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces members to the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan until May 31 next year, officials said Wednesday.

    The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to approve the one-year extension later this month as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party endorsed the government plan at a meeting on Wednesday. Currently, four Japanese SDF members work at the headquarters in South Sudan.

    The move comes after the U.N. Security Council decided in March to extend by one year the mandate of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS. The Japanese government aims to continue its contribution to peace and stability in Africa through the extended SDF dispatch, the officials said.

    In 2017, Japan ended its five-year deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force civil engineering units to UNMISS, but has kept SDF members stationed at the headquarters.

    Over the years, the SDF participated in U.N. peacekeeping operations under the restrictions of the war-renouncing Constitution.

    The scope of SDF activities expanded under security legislation that took effect in 2016, with personnel allowed to participate in overseas peacekeeping operations that are not under the control of the United Nations.

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